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Gerard Gaskin (Supplied)

Catholic Education Tasmania has written to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese urging him not to “enact laws that will divide us over religion”. Source: The Australian.

It is the latest sign faith-based educators are uniting against new protections for religious institutions on grounds they will do more harm than good.

In a letter sent on Monday to Mr Albanese, the executive director of Catholic Education Tasmania, Gerard Gaskin, and the leaders of 24 Tasmanian Catholic schools, expressed concern that contentious changes being proposed by Labor would undermine the religious ethos of faith-based schools.

“Your proposed legislation will severely impact the Catholic school’s ability to remain Catholic,” the letter said. “Schools would not be able to hire for mission, nor require staff to uphold Catholic belief and practice.”

“Please do not enact laws that will divide us over religion. Even today, religion matters to many Australians. Every fair-minded Australian values free speech. We are not asking for favour or preference.

“We ask only for the rights and freedoms that every Australian values: freedoms that have been honoured by governments since the founding of our nation.”

The Australian has previously revealed that Mr Albanese’s draft legislation has proposed removing section 38 from the Sex Discrimination Act in a move that has ignited a fierce fight from religious schools and the Coalition.

The exemptions at section 38 of the SDA allow faith-based educators to insist on staff and students adhering to the doctrines, tenets, beliefs and teachings of the religious school. They also allow schools to preference teachers when hiring on the basis of faith.

While Labor’s changes would remove these exemptions, the Government has produced a separate draft Religious Discrimination Act which would seek to replicate these protections and preserve the ability of schools to hire on the basis of faith.

Mr Albanese has previously said that he only wanted to pass the changes to religious freedoms if they won support from the Coalition. But he later said the Government was open to dealing with the Greens if the minor party was willing to support the rights people to practice their faith.


Tasmanian Catholics rebel against religious freedom changes (By Joe Kelly, The Australian)